Embodied Transformation & Evolution

A Fire In The Belly

Posted by on Jul 3, 2017 in Featured Writing, Lifeletters & Articles | 1 comment

A Fire In The Belly

Right now, in our wild, crazy, and busy world, there have never been so many sources of good information. You can go online, any hour of the day or night, and read highly intelligent texts, and very beautiful poetry. You can hear awake and evolved beings offer sacred teachings, listen to state of the art psychology, or brilliant and potent coaching. Here is one of my favourite examples, from Sogyal Rinpoche, ‘Rest in Natural Great Peace.’

And it’s all free, running like water that just needs to be scooped up and drunk.

If you want to go a little deeper, you can take an online course. The quality of what is being offered these days is astounding. And the variety is amazing too—there is something for everyone. And a lot of it is affordable.

So how come we are still stumbling around, creating vast amounts of suffering for ourselves and each other? Isn’t that a curious thing? Don’t you wonder why it’s taking us so long to really get the picture? To grow up? To start acting with some real wisdom, love and sanity?

I think we really need to address this question, not try and sidestep it. Robert Bly has a powerful response to it, in his poem “One Source of Bad Information”:


There’s a boy in you about three
Years old who hasn’t learned a thing for thirty
Thousand years. Sometimes it’s a girl.

This child has to make up its mind
How to save you from death.
He says things like: “Stay home. Avoid elevators. Eat only elk.”

You live with this child but you don’t know it.
You are in the office, yes, but live with this boy
At night. He’s uninformed, but he does want

To save your life. And he has. Because of this boy
You survived a lot. He’s got six big ideas.
Five don’t work. Right now he’s repeating them to you.


I am startled by the raw truth of this poem. My own life experience aligns with it completely, and the years of work I’ve done with thousands of people. It’s not so pleasant to really face what he is saying here. I think we like to underestimate the power of our conditioning. And it’s very easy to do, because the nature of our conditioning is that it is not seen, most of the time. It’s operating behind the curtains, out of sight, hidden where it can’t be touched by the light of awareness.

If we want to grow up, wake up, heal, transform, evolve—it doesn’t much matter what you call it—we have to face this fact first. That we are in the dark. We don’t know what’s going on. What we are calling the problem is not really the problem. It’s just what we can see. We’re always chasing the symptoms, and very rarely getting to the heart of the matter.

This is a hard thing to admit. Especially for someone, like me, who has done a lot of work on myself, and decades of work with other people.

However, life is very persistent in it’s tough grace. If we keep on fooling ourselves, life will keep on delivering the evidence we need in order to face reality. We might have a lot of areas in our lives that look quite wonderful, but there’s this one place where we are stuck. (If we are lucky it’s only one.) We try so hard here, but things aren’t really working. There is an ongoing experience of suffering, conflict and bewilderment.

Does it mean we are morally bankrupt in this area? Does it mean we have a major character defect we need to face up to or else? Does it mean we must repent and atone for our sins? No. None of that. Those are old, ancient, worn-out stories. It just means that this place is still the kingdom where our child rules—the one that is still trying to save our life. The one that hasn’t learned anything for thirty thousand years. And that still needs to be respected for the persistence, for the valour of the effort to protect us.

I remember being very frightened as a child, when I first realized I was living in a world where most people were not grown up. Where people with big bodies were walking around, listening to the voices of small children inside them.  It’s one thing to see this about your neighbour, your mother, your prime minister or your husband. It’s quite another to see it about yourself. That these big ideas that don’t work are still grinding along in your operating system. Not yesterday, not last month. But right now.

To be an adult is a wonderful thing. To be able to care for and nurture our own desperate children within, with love and intelligence. It’s time for that now. It’s time to recognize when our child is grabbing the keys to the car and driving off with it.

An adult knows what to do with a frightened and lost child. A real adult knows, in her bones, in his cells. Not a teenager disguised as an adult. That one doesn’t know. And certainly not another child.

This change requires an awful lot of honestly, of humility, of vulnerability. I have seen famous teachers who were still being ruled by a small child within. It can take a whole lifetime to face what we need to face, so that we can nourish these capacities in ourselves. Our heart might break when we realize how essential they are, that we just can’t go on without them. If we let our whole being long for this, without shutting down and pretending that it doesn’t really matter, something starts to open in us.

I’d like to light a fire in the belly of anyone who can sense this possibility. That we could become this honest with ourselves, and this compassionate.

Let this Lifeletter be a small spark. If it lights this fire in even one reader, I’ll be overjoyed.


with love,

One Comment

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  1. Yogita Bouchard

    I do feel the fire deep within,,,,,,,,,, thank you dear friend

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